Posts tagged ‘UK’

November 2022 gallery


Here are November 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.

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Posted in cars, culture, France, gallery, humour, interests, internet, marketing, New Zealand, politics, publishing, TV, typography, UK, USA | No Comments »

The Lucire tribute to HM Queen Elizabeth II


I wrote the below in Lucire—even though plenty of publications have covered our monarch’s passing, it still felt right to acknowledge it. After all, she had appeared in Lucire a few times.
With the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday UK time, it would be remiss of this magazine to not mark this world event.

During the 25 years of Lucire, the Queen has featured several times, mostly from events that she attended. We weren’t around when she was newly crowned in her coronation gown by Norman Hartnell, and wearing the latest British fashions in her youth, a glamorous symbol of a new Elizabethan era that lifted the United Kingdom’s mood after World War II and continued rationing. But it is easy to imagine the coronation in 1953 being a dazzling, colourful event, and indeed it was covered in the likes of British Vogue at the time.

Her era has seen unprecedented change. As the longest-serving monarch in British history, she presided over an era which saw television become mainstream (a technology that she embraced with her Christmas message), many former colonies gain their independence, the dawn of the World Wide Web, the end of apartheid in South Africa, and both her country’s entry into and exit from what is now the European Union.

Much has already been said about HM the Queen’s sense of duty, and how she still read her red box’s worth of papers as head of state right to the end. On Tuesday she asked Liz Truss as the new prime minister—the Queen’s 15th, having begun with Sir Winston Churchill when she ascended to the throne—to form a government.

Here in Lucire the late Queen has attended events we happened to cover, beginning in 2008, with her last appearance at the Cartier Queen’s Cup in 2017.

I only caught a glimpse of her during a state visit to New Zealand in 2002 during her golden jubilee. It was her last visit to Aotearoa.

The visit was very subdued and HM the Queen and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh were whisked from the airport round the back roads of Rongotai, past the main street by Lucire’s then-HQ. I managed to photograph them as they drove by.

A neighbourhood shop had a staff member who was a diehard monarchist. I mentioned I had a photo of the royal couple and later gifted her my print. I still have the negative somewhere.

At the time, my sense was that our Labour government had republican leanings and downplayed the royal visit, hence ferrying them in the viceregal Daimler past industrial areas; it was a far cry from an earlier visit I witnessed in 1981 when as a school pupil, my schoolmates and I lined the drive at Government House to welcome her.

As someone who chose to retain my British nationality (I dutifully renew my passport every 10 years), as well as adopting my New Zealand one in 1980, I admit to having a tremendous amount of respect for HM Queen Elizabeth II and her unwavering sense of duty. Some of us born in Hong Kong in the 1970s, whose parents had memories of less pleasant times behind the Bamboo Curtain, appreciated the freedoms, although they stopped short of democracy, that we enjoyed in a Crown colony. Up to a point: my father said he could have worked harder to lose his Chinese accent after fleeing Taishan for Hong Kong after the communist revolution of 1949, but he chose not to as he didn’t want to be seen as sycophantic to the colonial power.

It was thanks to the Commonwealth that my Hong Kong-born, but China-raised, mother was able to obtain her nursing qualification from the General Nursing Council for England and Wales. When we emigrated to New Zealand, that made her transition into her job that much easier, as it was considered a notch above the rest. (Having said that, the Hospital Board put her on a lower pay grade than what she deserved, leading my parents to fight for it, with the help of Sir Francis Kitts, a family friend and the former mayor of Wellington. We won.)

When we came here, one familiar thing was that the currency had the Queen on it, and it was her constant presence that told you that there were, in principle at least, shared values. While we can rightfully critique the Empire and what it was built on, at least for this chunk of history, it was a reassurance for us as émigrés that there would be the rule of law in our new country, something that, as my parents could attest, China lacked during the difficult years of the war and immediately after.

My father’s preferred form of governance was social democracy, but he appreciated a constitutional monarchy; and my own studies at law school concluded that while an imperfect system, it was one which I, too, valued. The prospect of one of our own being president, at least to the law student me in 1992, seemed unfathomable and potentially divisive.

The success of the system does depend on our faith and trust in the monarch. HM Queen Elizabeth II gave us that sense, as one who placed duty first. As this nation enters into a period of official mourning, we also wonder what her successor, HM King Charles III, will bring to the table, with his interests in the environment and a UK government that he might not see eye to eye with.

Whatever the future, we pay tribute to HM Queen Elizabeth II and mark the close of this second Elizabethan age.

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Posted in China, culture, Hong Kong, media, New Zealand, publishing, technology, UK, Wellington | 4 Comments »

A tribute to Boris Johnson


What a perfect tribute to Boris Johnson. (Note: coarse language.)

I guess he wasn’t the last UK PM after all.

On a happier note, Liz Trussell, who has the Twitter handle of liztruss, has been replying to messages tagging her, including from the Swedish prime minister. Her account is well worth a look.

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Posted in internet, politics, UK | No Comments »

September 2022 gallery


Here are September 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.

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Posted in cars, China, culture, France, gallery, humour, interests, internet, marketing, media, New Zealand, politics, TV, UK, USA | No Comments »

Testing the seven search engines in the world


After reading Mojeek’s blog post from last July, I learned there are only seven search engines in the world now. In other words, I was checking more search engines out in the 1990s. It’s rather depressing, especially as the search market is largely a monopoly with Google dominating it (and all the ills that brings), and Bing and its licensees (like Duck Duck Go) with their 6 per cent.

Knowing there are seven, I fed the search into all of them to see where each stood.

The first figure is the claimed number of results, the second the actual number shown (without repeats removed, which Bing is guilty of).

I can’t use Brave here as its site search is Bing as well.

Yandex appears to be capped at 250 and Mojeek at 1,000, but at least they aren’t arbitrary like Google and Baidu. Baidu has a lot of category and tag pages from the Wordpress section of our site to bump up the numbers.
Gigablast 0/0
Sogou 19/13
Bing 243/50
Baidu 13,700/213
Yandex 2,000/250
Google 6,280/315
Mojeek 3,654/1,000

Frankly, more of us should go to Mojeek. It can only get better with a wider user base. Unlike Bing, it hasn’t collapsed. I know most of you will keep going to Google, but I just don’t like the look of those limits (not to mention the massive privacy issues).

Mojeek is now at 5,900 million pages, which must be the largest index in the west outside of Google.

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Posted in China, internet, publishing, technology, UK, USA | No Comments »

Putting the search engines through their paces


One more, and I might give the subject a rest. Here I test the search engines for the term Lucire. This paints quite a different picture.

Lucire is an established site, dating from 1997, indexed by all major search engines from the start. The word did not exist online till the site began. It does exist in old Romanian. There is a (not oft-used) Spanish conjugated verb, I believe, spelt the same.

The original site is very well linked online, as you might expect after 25 years. You would normally expect, given its age and the inbound links, to see at the top of any index.

There is a Dr Yolande Lucire in Australia whom I know, who I’m used to seeing in the search engine results.

The scores are simply for getting relevant sites to us into the top 10, and no judgement is made about their quality or relevance.
—I hate to say it, as someone who dislikes Google, but all of the top 10 results are relevant. Fair play. Then again, with the milliards it has, and with this as its original product, it should do well. 10/10
Mojeek might be flavour of the month for me, but these results are disappointing. Scopalto retails Lucire in France, so that’s fair enough, but disappointing to see the original site in fourth. Fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth are irrelevant and relate to the Spanish word lucir. You’d have to get to no. 25 to see Lucire again, for Yola’s website. Then it’s more lucir results till no. 52, the personal website of one of our editors. 5/10
—Considering it sources from Bing, it makes the same mistakes by placing the rarely linked up top, and in third. Fourth, ninth and tenth are irrelevant, and the last two relate to different words. Yola’s site is seventh, which is fair enough. 6/10
—Interesting mixture here. Strange, too, that comes up top. We own but it’s now a forwarding domain (it was once our link shortener, up to a decade ago). Seventh and ninth relate to the Romanian word strălucire and eighth to the Romanian word lucire. The tenth domain is an old one, succeeded a couple of years ago by Not very current, then. 7/10
—All relevant, as expected, since it’s all sourced from Google. 10/10
Virtual Mirage
—I don’t know much about this search engine, since I only heard about it from Holly Jahangiri earlier today. A very good effort, with only the ninth one being irrelevant to us: it’s a paper co-written by Yola. 9/10
—This is the Russian version. All are relevant, and they are fairly expected, other than the ninth result which I’ve not come across this high before, although it still relates to Lucire. 10/10
—How Bing has slipped. There are sites here relating to the Spanish word lucirse and to Lucira, who makes PCR tests for COVID-19. One is for Yola. 7/10
—For a Bing-licensed site, this is even worse. No surprise to see gone here, given how inconsistently Bing has treated it of late. But there are results here for Lucira and a company called La Cire. The Amazon link is also for Lucira. 3/10
—The sites change slightly if you use the search box at The Reverso page is for the Spanish word luciré. Sixth through tenth are irrelevant and do not even relate to the search term. Eleventh and twelfth are for and, so there were more relevant pages to come. The ranking or relevant results, then, leaves something to be desired. 5/10
Duck Duck Go
—Well, at least the Duck puts up top, and the home page at that (even if Bing can’t). Only four relevant results, with Lucire Men coming in at tenth. 4/10
—For the new entrant, not a bad start. Shame about the smaller index size. All of these relate to us except the last two, one a dictionary and the other referring to Yolande Lucire. 8/10

The results are surprising from these first results’ pages.
★★★★★★★★★★ Google
★★★★★★★★★★ Yandex
★★★★★★★★★★ Startpage
★★★★★★★★★☆ Virtual Mirage
★★★★★★★★☆☆ Brave
★★★★★★★☆☆☆ Baidu
★★★★★★★☆☆☆ Bing
★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ Swisscows
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ Mojeek
★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ Duck Duck Go

It doesn’t change my mind about the suitability of Mojeek for internal searches though. It’s still the one with the largest index aside from Google, and it doesn’t track you.

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Posted in China, France, internet, publishing, technology, UK, USA | 2 Comments »

Half an hour is a long time in politics


Hat tip to Johnnie Moore for this one, on Twitter earlier today.

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Posted in internet, politics, UK | No Comments »

Forget Duck Duck Go, Bing, and Google—I’m trying Mojeek


It was disappointing to note that after switching to HTTPS, and signing on to Bing Webmaster Tools, the search engine results for those sites of ours that made the change are still severely compromised.

I’ve written about searches for my own name earlier, where my personal and company sites lost their first and second positions on all search engines that I knew of after we made the switch. Only Google has my personal site back up top, with the company site on the middle of the second page. Bing has my personal site at number two, and I’d love to tell you where the company site is, but their search engine results’ pages won’t let me advance beyond page 2 (clicking ‘next page’ lands you back on the same page; clicking ‘3’ and above still keeps you on p. 2). Duck Duck Go, which uses Bing results, has it well below that—I gave up looking. And this is after I signed up to Bing Webmaster Tools in the hope I could get the sites properly catalogued.

It’s a real shame because Duck Duck Go has been my default for 12 years this August.

However, it was the loss of search results for Lucire that really bothered me. Here’s a site that’s 25 years old, with plenty of inward links, and c. 5,000 pages. Before the switch to HTTPS, the popular search engines had thousands of pages from our site. These days, Bing and Duck Duck Go tell me they have dozens of pages from Lucire’s website. Again, only Google seems to have spidered everything.

When I check Bing Webmaster Tools, the spidering has been shockingly poor.

The received wisdom that you should have HTTPS instead of HTTP to do better in search engines is BS, and the belief that search engines will eventually catch up has also not been realized. We made the switch in March, and I’m to believe that Bing hasn’t completed the indexing of our sites.

Are they using the same computers New Zealand banks do? (Cheques used to clear overnight in the 1970s, and now banks tell us that even electronic payments can take days. When we last used cheques, they were telling us they would take five to seven days. Ergo, bank computers are slower today than in 1976.)

The real downer is that Lucire’s website search box is powered by Duck Duck Go, so our own site visitors can’t find the things they want to look for. If you believe some of the search engine marketing, over 40 per cent of site visitors use your search function.

What to do?

I began looking at having an internal search again. We used to have a WhatUSeek (later SiteLevel) internal site search, but that site’s search functions appear to be dead (the site is still live). A user on Mastodon recommended Sphinx Search, an open-source internal site search, but the instructions were too complex. I even saw real computer geeks having trouble. The only one that I could understand was called Sphider—I could follow the instructions and knew enough about PHP and MySql—but it was last updated many years ago, and successive projects also looked a bit complex.

A Google internal search was absolutely out of the question, as I have no desire to expose our readers to tracking—which is why so many other Big Tech gadgets have been removed from our site(s). Baidu and Yandex also have very limited indices for our sites.

I am very fortunate to have tried Mojeek again, a British search engine recommended to me by Matias on July 2. What I didn’t know then was Mojeek has its own spider and its own index, so it doesn’t have to license anything from Bing. And, happily, it claims to have 3,535 results from, which might not be as good as Google’s 5,830, but it beats Bing’s 50 earlier today—in fact, at the time of writing, it showed a grand total of 10. That’s how bad it’s got. Duck Duck Go now has 48, also down from a few thousand before March.

Like Google, it seems to have coped with the switch to HTTPS without falling to pieces! And guess what? For a search of my own name, my personal site is number one, and our work site is number two. Presumably, Mojeek is the only search engine which coped and behaved exactly as the experts said!

You can imagine my next move. Mojeek has a site search, so now all Lucire searches are done through it. And readers can actually find stuff again instead of coming up nearly empty (or having very irrelevant results) as they have done for months.

Duck Duck Go’s lustre had been wearing off as there were recent allegations that its browser allowed Microsoft to track its users, something which Duck Duck Go boss Gabriel Weinberg personally denied on Reddit, saying that users were still anonymous when loading their search results.

I still have good memories of chatting to Gabriel in the early days and figuring out ways of spreading the word on Duck Duck Go. My contribution was going to hotels and changing the search defaults on business centre computers. Back then I had the impression Duck Duck Go did some of its own spidering, but these days, if Bing has a shitty index for your site, the Duck will follow suit. And with HTTPS not living up to its promise, that’s simply not good enough.

Tonight, Mojeek is very much the site of the day here, and I heartily recommend you try it out. I’ve switched the desktop to Mojeek as a default, and I’ll see how it all progresses. Right now I feel it deserves our support more than Duck Duck Go. Finally, we might truly have an alternative to Google, and it’s run from the UK’s greenest data centre. With our servers now being greener, too, running out of Finland, the technology is starting to match up to our beliefs.

Google, the biggest index of them all

Mojeek, a creditable second place

This is it on Bing: a 25-year-old history on the web, and it says it has 10 pages from Altavista, Excite and Hotbot had more in the 1990s

Duck Duck Go is slightly better, with 48 results—down from the thousands it once had
After switching to HTTPS
Number of results for
Google: 5,830
Mojeek: 3,535 (containing the word Lucire, as term-less searches are not allowed)
Duck Duck Go: 48
Bing: 10
Number of results for
Google: 878
Mojeek: 437 (containing the term “Jack Yan”)
Duck Duck Go: 54
Bing: 24
Number of results for
Google: 635
Mojeek: 297 (containing the word jyanet)
Duck Duck Go: 46
Bing: 10

Presumably the only search engine that could handle a server going from HTTP to HTTPS and preserving the domains’ positions

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Posted in business, internet, publishing, technology, UK | 1 Comment »

They’re brainwashed by the cult of Boris, so the next Tory leader will be an ideologue


Sean O’Grady puts into his opinion piece what so many of us have said. He does it far better than I could.

They backed Johnson through the Dominic Cummings scandal, through the resignations of two ethics advisers, through the scandal of a party donor paying for the decoration of his flat, through the mishandling of the pandemic and the mismanaging of Brexit with a rotten deal, Partygate and law breaking, an unlawful prorogation of parliament and breaking treaties and international law, allegedly trying to get Carrie a £100,000 job and Wilfred a £150,000 treehouse, depriving kids of free school dinners … and much, much more …

So it’s not just Johnson who’s morally compromised, but the whole Tory party, with rare exceptions. They are all guilty men and women because they voted for him, campaigned for him, sustained him, lied for him and generally disgraced themselves and the country in the process. They were all members of the cult of Boris, and they knew exactly what he was.

They didn’t care because he was a winner. He hasn’t suddenly turned nasty – he was like this since about the age of eight. He’s outlived his usefulness to them, but if they thought the devil incarnate could win them the next election they’d be signing his nomination papers right now. Parties tend to get the leaders they deserve.

Sunak, Javid and others are in no position to be preaching about integrity. If seeing the monarch mourn her husband whilst sitting alone due to COVID-19 restrictions at the same time Johnson partied at his ‘work event’ didn’t concern them, are we to believe that they are one bit concerned about sexual assault? Pull the other one.

If the Tories are smart, they’ll go for someone well outside this band of muppets. But as O’Grady also states, ‘Your next PM, like Johnson, will be chosen by about 90,000 mostly elderly, reactionary and unrepresentative members of the Conservative Party.’ In such cases, name recognition and familiarity will decide the next leader. Sadly, that’s unlikely to be anyone from the moderate wing of the Conservative Party. That is now a minority.

Will they promote a better culture than Johnson did? Possibly. If they have some sense of organization and leadership. But that alone is not going to fix the UK’s problems. Ideologues should not come before pragmatists, but it’s hard to see any other outcome given what the Conservative Party has become.

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Posted in culture, leadership, media, politics, UK | No Comments »

July 2022 gallery


Here are July 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.

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Posted in cars, culture, design, France, gallery, interests, marketing, media, politics, publishing, technology, UK, USA | No Comments »